Parking pirates warned: the council is coming after you

DRIVERS in Bearsden and Milngavie who flout parking guidelines will in future receive parking tickets from council-employed parking attendants if a bid to take over enforcement from police gets the go ahead.

Councillors on the Development & Infrastructure Committee agreed to submit an application to the Scottish Government to introduce Decriminalised Parking Enforcement (DPE) across East Dunbartonshire.

The parking shake-up would enable the council to tackle erratic and often dangerous parking around schools and in town centres while also seeing abuse of blue badge spaces punished with a fine.

If the application is approved, four parking attendants could be on the streets by summer or autumn 2013.

Committee Convener, Councillor Alan Moir, is hopeful of success.

He said: “The introduction of DPE in East Dunbartonshire is about making our schools, shops, railway stations and other facilities safer and easier to access.

“With the withdrawal of Police traffic wardens last year, there is a need for some kind of enforcement and I believe this is the way forward.”

Income from the issue of Penalty Charge Notices once the scheme has bedded in is projected at more than £96k per year. Annual running costs are forecast at just over £233k with one-off set up costs of £52k.

Before the Scottish Government will give the scheme the green light it must be satisfied that the council can meet the shortfall of £189k in the first year and £137k in following years.

To achieve this, the council is proposing the introduction of minimal charging in 23 car parks (including four in Bearsden, 10 in Milngavie) from 2014.

To encourage shoppers into town centres, it is proposed that the first two hours of parking are free with the third hour costing £1 and a fourth hour costing an additional £1. To discourage commuters parking all day in prime spots it will cost £5 to park for four hours or more. Drivers who hold a blue badge can park free at all times.

Councillor Moir said: “At the moment we see valuable town centre spaces taken up by people parking all day, meaning that shoppers who want to spend with local retailers and use local facilities are put off. The sliding scale of charges is designed to encourage local people to shop locally and bring visitors in while deterring all-day parkers.

“I’ve said from the outset that this is not about revenue generation. If we should be in a position where we have surplus revenue once annual costs are met, this money will, in line with legislation, be ploughed straight into traffic and transport projects to benefit local people. However, we will aim to set charges at an appropriate rate so that any surplus is minimised.”

Although the stated period for the Scottish Government to consider an application for DPE is 12 weeks, staff changes mean it may take up to 10 months. Council officials are hopeful that it will be somewhere in between the two.